Monday, October 1, 2012

New Virginia law cracks down harder on first-time DUIs

On behalf of John J. Rice, Attorney & Counselor at Law posted in Drunk Driving Charges on Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The reach of Virginia's DUI laws is broader as of July 1. In an attempt to reduce drunk driving in the state, the Virginia legislature voted to extend the application of a law that requires those convicted of drunk driving to install and use ignition interlock devices on their cars.

The provision that is different now is that the law applies to two new classes of offenders. Those convicted after July 1 of a first-time offense and those convicted after having been found to have a blood alcohol content level over the legal limit, but below 0.15 percent, will now be required to install the devices in all vehicles registered in their names.

Before July 1, the requirement for the devices applied only to repeat offenders and first offenders whose BAC was recorded at 0.15 percent (nearly twice the legal limit) or more. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Motor Vehicles says that the aim is to prevent drunk driving any way possible and prevent the state's alcohol-related deaths from increasing.

Having to use the device is not just an inconvenience for the driver. The offender is also responsible for paying for the installation and the cost of monthly rental as well. A state-approved vendor must install the device at the offender's expense. One source quotes a fee of $50 for the installation with the monthly fee of $55 a month for lease and tax.

The technology is supposed to work by conducting periodic checks on a driver's sobriety. The driver must blow into the device and get an approved reading before the car will start. At various intervals, while in motion, the device will also signal the driver to give another sample. The driver has to pull off the road to blow into the device again. If the periodic samples detect alcohol, the vehicle ceases to operate.

One problem with the devices, though, is that they aren't foolproof. They can deliver a false positive at times. That results in the driver having to go into court again to prove they were sober, despite the faulty readings.

What this all points to is that those facing DUI charges need to take the allegations very seriously, because conviction, even for a first offense, will mean tough penalties that could cost hundreds of dollars. The new law makes it more important than ever that those accused of DUI offenses stand up for their rights and seek acquittal.

Source:, "New law expands Breathalyzer use against drunken drivers," Joe Beck, July 11, 2012

Tags: DUI, drunk driving charges, ignition interlock

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